You can have ideas around the best pricing and promotion strategy in the industry, but that’s never going to be enough if you’re not putting plans in place now because, newsflash, all of your competitors will be.
In this article, I’ll share how you can get the most out of your current resource, the importance of activating before the big day and how to prepare to react accordingly. With three months before the big day, here are my recommendations:
This is my favourite month to dive into because, in my opinion, it’s the most important one. Now is the time to consider the resource available in your team and establish solid ways of working.
First and foremost, getting your digital strategies ready for Black Friday is a project. You need someone to take ultimate responsibility for this, owning the process and holding others to account. Plenty of brands share this responsibility across channels and have to jump through three different layers of sign-off to move anything forward. No. You need one person that has ultimate accountability, and then a team around you with set deliverables to achieve. The minute too many stakeholders are involved, you’re going to start falling behind.
Whoever is owning Black Friday needs to ensure that your pricing and offer strategy, as well as competitor analysis, are nailed in September at a minimum.
It’s also crucial to analyse the data from 2022. How did each of your channels perform? Which channels did people buy on, and where did they research? What did your competitors do? (use SimilarWeb and other third-party tools to support you here). What are the differences between your new and returning customers on BF? But also, what worked well internally and what held you back – analyse your ways of working and adapt.
If you do all of this in September, you’ll be in a great position for October.
Also known as: Panic Month.
Why do we call this the panic month? Because of a large proportion of brands talk about Black Friday in September but fail to act. When October and you suddenly realise ‘oh no, it’s Black Friday next month’, we risk implementing overly reactive strategies, making poor budget decisions, using low-quality creative and generally being behind the curve. If you delay your planning until October – think about your sign-off process – you’re losing weeks when you could be talking to your customers in the right way.
October isn’t the time for planning, it’s the time for acting. All activities run in October, even what ‘BAU’ activity, has to serve a purpose for November. You either need to build an audience or build loyalty to your brand. When we’re talking about brand loyalty, think about if your audience is engaging with your brand in October, what are you offering to ensure they won’t buy from a competitor on Black Friday? I’m not talking about price either, I’m talking about experience – how they remember you and how you re-engage them.
When building your audience, are you investing more in brand awareness or, better yet, lead-gen campaigns? Capturing emails in November is too late to do anything meaningful with them. Last year, working with skincare and haircare brands, we ran lead-gen campaigns via Meta and drove a CPL of less than 30p (from £10k media spend), simply by offering free samples and running competitions. Get to work on initiatives like this early on in October, and, by Halloween, you will have built a big pool of first-party data. Note: You will not win Black Friday if you haven’t increased your audience pool by November.
Whilst still in October, I want to mention creative insight. November isn’t the time to test your creative. With the activity you’ve run in October, you should know what formats have worked, and what copy has landed so there’s no danger of learning periods in November. Ideally, you will have already uploaded shells of your activity and scheduled it for November as well as had it properly QA’d to limit any room for error.
It’s that simple? Wrong. Enter November…
Sometimes the unexpected happens and you may have to pivot your strategy. While everything you’ve worked on so far has set you up for a successful Black Friday… you have to be able to adapt and react. And what’s one thing that you’ll certainly need to react to? Competition.
You should have already conducted some competitor analysis in September, but you need to be fully informed throughout this three-month period, reviewing your competitors regularly:
- Daily website checks
- Rising terms monitoring
- Custom Google alerts
- Auction insights
- Social listening
- … and more!
So what happens when the competition is performing better than you, and inflated CPCs are making it more difficult to remain visible? You should be prepared to increase your media spend.
Please have a backup budget! This is something to discuss with your wider team ASAP. By getting sign-off on a backup budget well in advance, you have a solid Plan B in place. Securing additional budget isn’t a decision you can likely make in the midst of Black Friday when people are already researching and you’re not showing up.
In addition to a backup budget, here are some other considerations to help you react and adapt accordingly on the day:
- Determine backup offers that you can deploy – just in case!
- Plan for additional resource in your team in case there’s any unexpected time off
- Stock – don’t run out of stock of your offer product. Do you have enough stock? If it’s low, what are you going to do? Is it best to leave it or to find another offer?
It might seem like there is a lot to do over the course of the next 3 months but please don’t feel overwhelmed. I have created a template roadmap with all of the standard tasks that you and your team should be doing from now, right up until the 24th of November. Drop me an email or connect with me on LinkedIn if you’d like me to send you a copy.